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Alexander Boyd

Compact "always on" 35mm prime for documentary: Xeen CF or rehoused vintage glass?

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Hi everyone,

looking to purchase a small and compact prime lens in the range of 35mm to be used as a n"always on" lens for a documentary, using an Arri 435. I came across the newish Xeen CFs as a possibility, or alternatively using vintage glass such as Zeiss Planars, Flektogons, or Leica Summicrons (rehoused or at lest with gears).

Curious to read your thoughts, thanks in advance for your help!

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Personally I'd steer clear of the Xeen CFs because they're the same glass as Rokinon's cheaper lenses just with fancier housings. I have a cinevised set of Leica R lenses and love them. You can get a good Leica 35mm summicron for about half the price of a new Xeen CF. If size is the main factor for you, another option (that's a bit more expensive) would be a 32mm Zeiss Standard Speed, which is even smaller than the Xeens.

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I think there was discussion about Xeens maybe fouling on the sloping front of certain film cameras in an old thread, so check that they will actually fit a 435.

The Xeens and most rehoused lenses will have more expanded and accurate focus scales than cine modded (geared) stills lenses, so maybe think about what might be more suitable for your project - a smaller focus throw which can be easier for a single operator, or the ability to do more accurate and repeatable focus pulls.


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Posted (edited)

I've been shooting with the Rokinon Xeen's exclusively on 35mm for quite a while, maybe 2016? I can't remember when I got them, but it's been a while. I haven't had a lick of issues with them. The overly crisp image they create is a perfect addition to the already somewhat soft 35mm film format. They aren't great at F1.5, but at F2 they're fine. The focus marks are right on, in fact they're more on than any other lens I've used. I've tested them again and again to insure the marks are dialed and they are. The 24, 35, 50 and 85 are good solid lenses. I'd stay away from anything that isn't F1.5, those are all kinda junky, especially the wider lenses. 24mm is also wide enough for most 35mm work. Oh and they should work fine on the 435, they only have issues fitting on the Arri 2C and 35III due to the mirror angle. 

I just did my 3rd short film on them recently, looking forward to seeing the results, but here is my first: 


Most of this trailer for my upcoming feature, entirely shot on film, is Xeen as well: 


Edited by Tyler Purcell

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